At the moment I have 4 plastic bins with a selection of toys in each. Every day a new bin is brought down to the living room. To begin with this worked really well and she rediscovered toys that were long forgotten. It also made tidy up time very easy. However the novelty is wearing off and often the toys remain in the bin untouched. I need to find a way to make playing more attractive than the remote control.
Community Playthings have several great leaflets to download, for free, on creating optimum play environments. Although they are aimed at nurseries I'm sure you could use some of the ideas at home. According to their, "Creating Places: Room Layout, Birth to 3." leaflet, toddlers learn through sensory and motor activities. They need to explore materials and move around unhindered. The leaflets recommends:
- large muscle activities - wheeled toys, rocking toys, playground, walking
- construction / block corner
- small world - little figures of people and animals in a setting
- a home corner of imitation play equipment, i.e. play kitchen, dressing up
- creative / art area
- sensory area - messy play, treasure boxes
- books or cosy corner
It looks like I have most of the resources for setting this up.....apart from a large house! Having "stations" set up around Pip's play areas would be one way to do this. We already have a construction area in her bedroom (a box of blocks) and she has two book areas, on each floor. There is always the kitchen sink for water play. I just need to find away to make it more inviting and flowing, so that when she's finished playing at one station she can move onto the next. It also needs to be practical - grow ups live here too.
Having 7 stations set up (from the list) at once is going to make the area look too crowded so I've decided to rotate the stations so we have 3 in the morning and 3 in the afternoon. The books and puzzles will remain available all the time. The day's routine will also include walks, visits to local playgroups, swimming and also chores (depending on her mood!). For Pip there will need to be a strong focus on motor and sensory activities, she's not one for sitting down quietly playing with small plastic dinosaurs, not matter how exciting the small world is. For me it will have to be easy to set up, tidy, store and should not always need my constant supervision.